Today I'm excited to have the lovely Mary O'Sullivan on my blog talking about different spaces we authors like to write in and her new thriller novel, Thicker Than Water. I tend to write at my desk in the corner of our lounge. It means I'm rarely writing in peace and quiet - the television is normally on, my husband sitting behind me, and my kids constantly interrupting me. I have a busy family household, so locking myself away in solitude is something of a dream.
Take it away, Mary!
The Write Space
There are people who can write, anytime, anywhere. They may be seen in cafés, surrounded by clatter and clamour and a half-finished, now cold, skinny latte. They appear to be focused solely on the tablet or laptop on which they are tapping away. Assuming that no office workers take their memos out for coffee, it is a good guess that the keyboard tapper is a novelist. Maybe they channel the energy of noisy, busy settings into their creativity. Or it could be possible the whole public exercise is about whipping up interest in the finished work. I admire their powers of concentration, not to mention the will power it must take not to constantly order cream doughnuts. However, the space I choose for my own writing has no witnesses to my keyboard tapping – or not- and no cream doughnuts.
Because I started writing when I was very young, and have now reached what could be called ‘a good age’, I have seen many technological changes develop. I learned to write – as in physically form letters on a page - using pencil, then pen and ink. I fell foul of spilled ink and big blots on finished homework many times and ink-stained fingers were the norm. My fascination with the written word began then. I used to marvel at the fact that a symbol on a page could convey a sound, a sight, a feeling. I sat at the kitchen table in my home and experimented with the shapes and meanings of letters and words. As I learned, I heard the gentle sound of my mother kneading dough on a floured board, the crackling of coals in the old range, the snores of our dog by the fire. It was a warm and safe cocoon. It was also my very first writing space.
Some of you may remember the early home computers. They were big clunky things and not at all suitable for plonking on top of the kitchen table. At that time, I commandeered the dining room table for my computer. Since that table was used only on special occasions, which were few and far between, I could leave my computer and mess of notes set up for long periods of time. As computers became smaller, they were moved from the dining room table, to coffee table and eventually to a desk. I remember the excitement of that first computer desk with the special shelf beneath for the tower and above for the monitor. There were little holes cut where the forest of connections snaked through to the wall sockets behind. Best of all was the fact that the desk was in a little space we grandly called the computer room because it would have been too mean to call it the computer cupboard.
This tiny place with the big name became my precious writing space where I penned my short stories and my first novel, Parting Company. Both my parents died from cancer. Creating a fictional short story, where my main character discovered the cure for that dread disease, was cathartic. Short story finished, I was still grieving and angry, so I expanded on it, kept bashing away at the keyboard. It was not easy to find time then with a full time job and a family to care for. I would snatch an hour here and there, whenever I could, and disappear into my little computer space. It became my oasis of peace and quiet. It had the same safe feel as my childhood home where I had learned to form letters as my mother baked bread and watched over me. I was again learning, but this time about the demands of novel writing. Very early on I realised there is no blueprint, just patience and the strength to wrestle the words into place. I grew to love my characters, even the baddies. I looked forward to going into my little writing space, closing the door, and sneaking off into the fictional world I had created. That book, rooted in grief for my parents and anger at cancer, became my first published novel in 2006. It holds a very special place in my heart, as does the computer cupboard.
Computers have got smaller but my writing space has grown. It’s just a slight exaggeration to call the place where my desk now sits a computer room. I have the space to place some of my treasures on my desk. Family photos of course, but also my stones. I love to pick up a stone from any new area I visit. I inscribe the place and date so that I don’t forget .Stones come in so many shapes, colours and textures, they are fascinating. The Russian doll my son brought me from ---well from Russia--- is always near at hand also. When I can’t find the word I need, or when the blank page intimidates, I open up the nest of dolls. By the time I’m down to the tiniest doll, I have usually found a way out of my impasse. Above my desk hangs a poster of Martin Luther King with the opening lines of his ‘I have a dream ‘speech. His words continue to live on and inspire. That poster has many a time given me the courage to go on when I felt like giving up.
I have a lap top now and an empty nest since my sons have grown up and left. I can write anywhere I like. But where I like is the computer room, which used to be the computer cupboard, preceded by the coffee table via the dining room table, and before that the kitchen table in my parent’s home. It’s been a long journey, and one I hope will continue for many more twists and turns. My writing space in the computer room is always ready and waiting.
Thank you to Marissa for hosting me on her blogspot today and thanks also to Lucy Felthouse (Writer marketing Services) for organising my visit here.
Excerpt from Thicker Than water
Maeve Crocker liked to have the radio tuned in as she worked about the house. She didn’t always pay attention to what was on but she was concentrating now as she listened to a renewed appeal for information on the whereabouts of a missing girl. The fourth to disappear without trace in the past eighteen months. This girl was a student named Andrea McGee. Nineteen years old. Two months ago Andrea had caught a bus from the college in Waterford city to her native Dungarvan in the county. Witnesses and CCTV proved that she had arrived safely in the square of her home town at five fifteen in the afternoon. She then left the town on foot to walk the mile to her house on the coast road. But she had not reached home and there had been no contact from her since. A cold shiver crept down Maeve’s back. Andrea, unlike the other girls, was not a prostitute. Her fleeting thought, that the disappearance of the student was more tragic than that of the prostitutes’, filled Maeve with self-disgust. All the girls had parents, siblings, people who loved them. All had a right to be safe.
She switched off the radio, picked up her phone and keyed in her daughter’s quick dial number. It rang a few times before she heard Evelyn’s voice deliver her ‘sorry I can’t take your call. Leave a message, please,’ recording.
Blurb for Thicker Than Water :
When local teenager, Keira Shannon and her father, business man Gerard Shannon, go missing, the town of Ballyderg unites to search for them.
As the search continues rumours of domestic violence, extramarital affairs and criminal behaviour are rife. The crisis causes families and lifelong friends to doubt each other.
The only certainty left is that the town has been visited by evil. Or has it? Could it be the evil one has always lived there sharing history, laughter and tears? And if so, who could it be?
Amazon buy links : http://authl.it/3st
Tirgearr Publishing http://bit.ly/1J6E7ZV
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1RpGnhf
Mary worked many years as a Laboratory Technician. Her hobby, her passion, has always been writing. Busy with family and career, she grabbed some moments here and there to write poetry and short stories. She also wrote a general interest column in a local newspaper.
As the demands on her time became more manageable she joined a local creative writing class. It was then, with the encouragement of tutor Vincent McDonald, that the idea of writing a novel took shape. She began to expand on a short story she had written some years previously. It was a shock for her to discover that enthusiasm and imagination are not enough. For the first time she learned that writing can be very hard work.
Mary now has six traditionally published novels, nine eBooks and hopefully more to come, inspiration permitting.
Social Media Links
Please visit my web page at : http://www.maryosullivanauthor.com
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